The Future, mini-review

Recently caught up with Miranda July’s much-awaited second feature, The Future, which offers an interesting example of the mix of qualities that typifies many indie films – and further demonstrates the continued presence of such films, despite various rhetorical claims about the supposed ‘death of indie’ in one way or another. There are some ingredients here that might seem characteristic of what is often denigrated as being an affectedly ‘quirky’ kind of indie approach, most notably a strand of narration supplied in a squeaky voice by July that represents the musings of a cat recovering from injury at the vet’s, while the main action of the piece proceeds. The two leads, July herself as Sophie and Hamish Linklater as Jason, are also familiar indie types in their rather gawky and awkward manners. But The Future also offers some less expected/familiar turns, most notably the injection of something like a sci-fi dimension involving the stopping of time. And all of this is the basis for a quite awkward and uncomfortable examination of a series of relationships – and I mean those terms in a positive sense. There’s no danger here of slipping into a cosy version of quirkiness of the kind that the cat-narration-device might at first suggest (to underline the point – spoiler alert here – the poor old mog doesn’t make it to the final credits). All in all, a promising sign of the continuance of a number of core indie characteristics. Which isn’t to say that getting such films made is an easy business (which it never was), given the gap between this and July’s previous feature, Me, You And Everyone We Know, released in 2005. July confirms here the important role played by a number of women filmmakers in the maintenance of a prickly variety of relationship-based indie film (other leading figures including Nicole Holofcener and Rebecca Miller), but it seems to remain a fact that they find it even harder to get their films financed and/or released than some of their male counterparts. There’s a good essay on the distinctive contributions made by some of these by Michele Schreiber in the forthcoming collection American Independent Cinema: Indie, Indiewood and Beyond, edited by myself, Yannis Tzioumakis and Claire Molloy.

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